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Could the Giants Stand to Improve Their Lineup?

I know what most of you are thinking; "Man, couldn't the Giants use some pitching?" Yeah, they could, and trading for Robbie Ray, who won't be back until mid-season, isn't enough. Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery would be fun additions to Logan Webb and the top of this rotation, but those are big-money and big-time moves that are hard to anticipate. So let's focus on their lineup, which unfortunately lacks quite a bit of thump.

Their projections have Wilmer Flores as their top contributor offensively, with Patrick Bailey and newly-signed center fielder Jung Hoo Lee being their best overall position players, although a lot of those 2 have most of their value tied up in their elite defense.

There's still some potential on this roster to be a bit more boom than bust, especially with the recent signing of home-run-hitting extraordinaire Jorge Soler (hey, that rhymed) and while you shouldn't expect them to beat out the Dodgers for the division, their chances at winning a Wild Card spot are greater than you'd think.

ZiPS has them sitting around 80-85 wins before the Soler signing, and while Soler doesn't exactly move the needle a great amount, there are still some other moves to be made to push them closer to that 85 spot. Here they are.

Flip Joey Bart for Harold Ramirez

This is just a match made in heaven. The Rays are a bit light on major-league-ready catching depth, and even though I'm higher on projected starter Rene Pinto than most, there's a big hole behind him.

Alex Jackson is fine, don't get me wrong, but Joey Bart would give them a guy with a bit higher upside than most of their other options. Jackson lacks quite a bit in bat-to-ball skills but makes up for it with a bit of pop. Where Bart out-classes him though, is in his framing ability and past minor league performance.

Bart was putting up some dynamite seasons in the late 2010s as he made his way through the Giants' farm system, and he hasn't quite been allowed to shine in San Fransisco. Being given a chance to get a solidified backup role for a team with as excellent of a player development department as Tampa could be a huge boon for the former first-rounder.

Now for the Giants' side of this trade; their current infield options are Wilmer Flores at first, Thairo Estrada at second, Marco Luciano (who might need another year to settle in at AAA; his MLB debut didn't go super well, and his performance in AAA wasn't much better) at short, and JD Davis at third.

What I would propose is to move Flores (who was solid at first base last season) back to second, a position he's played most of his career and been ok at, and move Estrada back to short, a position he's graded out as above average when he played there in 2022 for San Fran, and start Lamonte Wade, Jr. and Harold Ramirez as platoon buddies at first base.

Ok, that was a lot of shifting around, and I'll break it down in relatively simple terms here: the Giants would be sacrificing a bit of defense through these moves (and a bit of catching depth by trading Bart) to add quite a bit of offense.

I'm guessing they don't want Soler in the outfield, so keeping him at DH is a must, and while Ramirez is a horrible defender, first isn't the worst place to put him. Wade, Jr. is fine there, but, where their value truly lies is in their ability to hit opposite-handed pitching. Wade, Jr. was a really good hitter against righties last year, and has been for most of his career; his 125 wRC+ last season was only three points higher than his career average in the category.

Ramirez, despite his weird approach and process stats, gets the job done, especially against lefties, as he managed a whopping 157 and 173 wRC+ against southpaws over the past two seasons with the Rays. Ramirez can also more than hold his own against righties with a 104 and 110 wRC+ over the last couple of years, so maybe the Giants get aggressive and use him as a spot outfielder/DH guy against righties if needed.

Regardless, this move makes a ton of sense for both teams, giving the Giants one of the best platoon combinations in baseball, eliminating the need to rush Marco Luciano's development, plus bolstering their lineup for the present and future with one swift move.

Take a Chance on C.J. Cron

I will admit, that Cron was not productive last season, and he wouldn't be worth more than a very low-dollar amount, a one-year deal at most. But the good news is he's not that far removed from being a big bopper in Minnesota, Detroit, and Colorado (shudder).

I know he was given a fair amount of help with the Rockies by playing in Colorado and that high-elevation ballpark, but he could still be a valuable bench bat who could also spell Lamonte Wade, Jr. at first against LHP. His platoon splits haven't been kind recently; he's fared better against righties than lefties, but he had to get traded to the Angels last year, who seemed to be a breeding ground for player production drop-offs.

Plus, his process numbers would suggest that he experienced a bit of bad luck, with an xwOBA exceeding his actual wOBA and none of his plate discipline or contact-quality numbers taking too far a departure from career norms.

Let's give him a pass and say that the Giants could use a guy like Cron on their roster; a guy with some pop who can potentially take advantage of those road games in Colorado more than most (ok, that last one shouldn't be a factor, but hey it's still fun to mention).

He comes with a bit less defensive baggage than Ramirez (Cron grades out as a decent first baseman), would cost a lot less (Ramirez is slated to make $3.8 million after losing his arbitration case against the Rays), and would allow the Giants to keep Joey Bart.

Bring Back Adam Duvall

This is my favorite signing for the Giants; Duvall has quietly been one of the most valuable players throughout baseball in terms of return on investment; he's signed for several sub-$10 million contracts over the past few years while giving teams a solid corner outfielder with some pop.

His expected numbers won't wow you, despite a really impressive barrel rate, but his defensive versatility would come in handy for San Fransisco; he can play either of the corners at a high level, spelling Michael Conforto or Mike Yastrzemski against lefties (or if they just need a day off; Duvall was better against righties last year but historically mashes left-handed pitching), and he can even shift on down to first to give Lamonte Wade, Jr. a day off.

Duvall would be more expensive than Cron and Ramirez but is still a free agent, so maybe not as much as Spotrac has him projected (around $5.5 million). Regardless, Duvall brings some thunder to the lineup and can do the same thing to either Cron or Ramirez, shifting Flores and Estrada over and giving Luciano another year in the minors.

Whatever the Giants do, I hope they can address their lineup and add some power to it, because as it stands they have a very low ceiling (but also a very high floor). No reason to stress over missing out on Ohtani and Judge in consecutive years; use it as a reason to spread that investment out to the rest of the roster. Why not have it be one of these three guys?

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